CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

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In and out of the black, Lucinde's mind wandered. She knew who she had been; her life as Keeper, her time as Primordial, even memories as a little girl surfaced occasionally while she ruminated. She knew who she was supposed to be; the voice of the Dark, a companion to death, a weapon in war. Yet she felt nothing about any of those things. All she cared about was getting through the next phase and pleasing her new Master. If she was successful, her eternity of bliss would begin; everlasting life on the other-side with her loved ones.

The Dark gave her glimpses of heaven. Small tidbits of smiles and hugs to keep her on track. It fueled her. It strengthened her need to carry on the Dark's schemes.

She stood lifeless watching El'Athan prepare his new army. Each corpse dug up or dragged in seemed to rise more vigorously than those before it, as if they were imbued with more intent to harm. Their eyes searched for blood, for life to snuff out.

Each Soulless woke empty handed. But as they stood, from out of nothing formed their skeggox; a corporeal companion axe. It shifted in and out of reality as an icy haze, until it completely shaped, ready for battle and searching for its mark. Lucinde was unaffected by their fumes or stench. The host inside her protected and controlled her more than she could know. She didn't dwell on it because it was for a purpose.

The Black Shuck seemed as unconcerned about El'Athan's affairs with the Soulless as she did. It lay on its side with its eyes closed, but Lucinde knew better than to think it was sleeping. It's claws seemed to glow like embers, it's fur seemed to seep magma. She knew what it was, why it was here. How stupid El'Athan was to trust it.

The human was chained to a wall across from the three of them. He had meant something to her once, but the feeling was gone; forgotten. She loathed the thought of keeping him alive to stop the succession of Primordial's but she had been blinded by the empty promises of the Light for too long. The Dark was in her corner now. It was only a matter of time before she got what she wanted.

The Black Shuck suddenly rose its head and formed a low guttural growl. It was then Lucinde felt it too; a presence. Someone or something who did not belong. As always, El'Athan was oblivious to the Ethers. He was too consumed with creating his army of undead that he lost track of the important details. She could read the Ethers well. Something was afoot.

The Black Shuck needed no encouragement, it got up and left the caverns. It headed towards the exit to search the Scourge for intruders. It left behind a scorching trail of black paw prints.

Lucinde did not bother to interrupt El'Athan, she needed his army too. Let him continue for her own sake.

She followed the Shuck's lead and made her way out of the cavern to search the surrounding area. The air felt odd. It was as if it was filled with too much Light where none should be. The Ethers read strangely, something she had not seen in a very long time. She became frustrated and angered that she could not pinpoint its exact source. Though it was close, she decided to make a lap around the perimeter of the cliff to make sure no one was coming towards the cavern from the outer cities.

As she made passed a few tunnels and walked closer towards the caves exit, she felt the hair on her arms raise in warning. A pressure built slowly in her ears and intensified, but only for a moment. When she arrived outside, she felt nothing out of the ordinary. She thought perhaps it was her mind playing tricks on her. Still, it could have been a warning from the Dark. She saw the Shuck's trail lead to the west . She made her way east to meet up with it and see if it had found anything worthwhile.

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